Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Felt Board and Story/Song Shapes

This is our felt board area of the play room. The board is made from a piece of foam board (purchased from Dollar Tree by the poster boards) covered in felt and secured to the wall with Command strips (mirror clips would also work).

Below the board hangs a wall pocket organizer from Ikea, and beside it are some mirrors. My daughter loves to watch herself as she plays, so we have mirrors hanging near all the play spaces in her playroom.

I've also made her some felt pieces with which to act out some of her favorite finger play songs.

Five Little Ducks
Includes: 2 hills, 5 ducklings, Mama duck, Daddy duck

5 little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away

When the Mama duck said "quack, quack, quack"
4 little sucks came a-waddling back

Continue with 4- 3-2 ducks...

1 little duck went out to play
Over the hills and far away

When the Mama duck said "quack, quack, quack"
No little ducks came a-waddling back

But when the Daddy duck said, "QUACK, QUACK, QUACK..."

All the little ducks came a-waddling back!

5 Little Speckled Frogs
Includes: log, pool, 5 frogs, bug

5 little speckled frogs sitting on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs (Yum! Yum!)
One jumped into the pool where it was nice and cool
Now there are 4 green speckled frogs (Glub! Glub!)

Continue with 4-3-2...

1 little speckled frog sitting on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs (Yum! Yum!)
He jumped into the pool where it was nice and cool
Now there are no green speckled frogs (Glub! Glub!)

I freehanded the frogs, and I'm pretty proud that they came out vaguely resembling the creatures!

Up next, Margaret has requested "Wheels on the Bus" and "5 Little Monkeys and Mr. Alligator."


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wading Pool + Paint + Textured Balls = Art

NOTE: Oh, dear. It seems I've had a Picasa snafu and all my pictures have disappeared. I'll have that remedied in the next few days. Please check back.

My friends, it is so hot, my brain is completely fried. Rather than continue putting off writing a post until said friedness is cured (which should probably be sometime in November...), I'll go ahead and wing this one with pictures and a few captions if it's all the same to you. This is an activity we've been doing for years with sponges, but this time we added a twist inspired by Growing a Jeweled Rose.

wading pool with squirts of tempera paint

textured squishy balls from Target's Dollar Spot
poster board

roll balls around in paint

toss balls at poster board for fabulous splotchy floral-esque art

After Meg pronounced the poster complete, she got to work painting the pool with the balls.

After the art:

We filled the pool up with water to rinse everything off, and Meg ran to the back yard to get some sponges from her toy cabinet to help clean up!

At this point, James woke up and joined us for some wading.

Margaret couldn't resist sticking her toes in the cool water, either.

Before I knew it, she had stripped down in the front yard, hollering, "Bath! Bath!"

After a quick wardrobe change, she added some pie tins and spoons from her outdoor kitchen to the play.

And some bubbles.

She didn't seem to mind that all those toys in a baby pool made things a bit squishy.

She did acquiesce to tossing a few toys out to share some space with her brother.

And the two of them spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the cool, shady water.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maisie James

Before I begin, a brief note on sponsored reviews, recommendations, and other content. As a rule, I don't do them. I've had a number of requests, and I just don't think they're right for this blog. I think the blogging world is a beautiful place, and I love the free exchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. I've learned a lot and been so inspired by many of the blogs I read, but I do notice the quality of content tends to suffer once sponsorship comes into play. I don't want to ever plug a product or service I don't completely adore or think fits the theme of my blog, and I don't want the pressure to post on a schedule, for fear of falling into the trap of posting just for the sake of posting. I don't want a cluttered blog full of advertisements and lacking in real content. So there's that.

I do want to share the Etsy shop of a family member today, Maisie James Designs. You'll probably notice a familiar little model in some of the pictures. ;)

Karen has been working as a professional seamstress, making boutique children's clothes and items for over 2 decades. Her work is impeccable. No detail is missed, and the quality is far superior to anything you'll find in stores. She has such an eye for color and design. The items are made from designer fabrics expertly paired in stylish, attractive combinations.

The shop currently features beautiful apron knot dresses, a few of which we are fortunate to own. My little lady loves them for twirling.

Pop on over to the shop if you have a chance, and check back often as she adds her aprons, toys, and other clothing items. If my little guy ever gives me a moment, I may add my baby blocks to the mix, as I've had a few emails asking if I still offer them.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Garage Art Studio

I've mentioned before that our summers are brutal. Our backyard gets full sun 12 hours a day with 100+ degree temps most of the summer. We have all manner of biting and stinging insects flying/crawling/creeping around out there. And because we back up to a horse pasture, there's no wind break for the frequent 25+ mph winds.

I'm of the opinion that playing in and with nature is vitally important for healthy kids (and adults), but the elements were really putting a damper on our outdoor art time. I tried my hardest to find ways around it, canopies and curtains and such, but we were ending up frustrated more often than not after spending a while trying to create out there.

So we decided to turn our attached 2-car garage into an art studio for summer (and possibly beyond). It was previously being used to house our minivan, out of season/size clothes and toys, holiday decor, tools, and tons of stuff we kept meaning to sell/give away/toss. We relegated the minivan to the driveway and sold or donated everything we weren't regularly using. The storage was trickier. We had no other place to store these things, so they'd need to stay in there. Many of the tools and stacks of bins are dangerous for a toddler and soon-to-be-toddler to be wandering among, and we couldn't afford enclosed cabinets. So we arranged everything onto the metal shelves along the walls and hid the storage cheaply.

We screwed eye hooks into the corners of the walls, ran masonry line through them, cut plastic sheeting to size and poked holes along the top edge of it, and hung the sheeting from the line with shower curtain rings. All told, it cost us $25. The sheeting hangs heavily and keeps the kids away from danger, but it's easy for us to slide aside to access the things we need.

To further set the scene, we:
  • set up a sturdy handmedown kitchen table and chairs.
  • laid out some handmedown interlocking foam mats for floor activities (can be used for a safe place for the baby as he gets older, too).
  • put a handmedown accordion-folding baby gate along the front of the garage to keep stray animals from wandering in while we play.
  • moved Margaret's sensory table in.
  • moved her art supplies in, as well as some other items to make our art time more convenient and comfortable.

The TV was an extra being stored in the garage already. It has a DVD player attached, so we use it to listen to music.
The giant stack-o-cans doesn't live in there, it just hadn't been carried in yet.
The door in the back opens to our back yard, so she can freely come and go to the swingset, patio, and yard as she pleases while we're out here.

We hang her artwork from the sheeting with clothespins to make things brighter and more festive!
The giant TV doesn't work and will be hauled off eventually. The carpet is waiting to be laid inside.

The tub on top is for paint brushes and other things that need to be taken inside and washed.

Top: clothespins for hanging art, baby monitor to use if he's napping, rags
Middle: tablecloth for picnics and canvas drop cloth for messy liquid projects
Bottom: play shoes for me and Meg

Her outdoor art supply cabinet was moved into the studio.
Top: Special paints and things
Middle: Tools
Bottom: Tempera paint

The last week that we've been using this studio has been incredible! We're spending 2-3 hours a day out here, creating, playing, and exploring. We eat lunch and snack in the studio most days or people watch our neighbors doing yard work and biking and coming and going. It's without a doubt the best "renovation" project we've undertaken to date.